Accessible Adventure in Almost Heaven

Written by: Bryant Baker, River Operations Manager & Guide – ACE Adventure Resort

It’s the trip that takes a little extra effort, thought and planning that becomes the one you remember for years to come. The only thing a river guide loves more than riding the river is telling its tales! In my two decades of running rivers, one of my most memorable trips was having the opportunity to guide six folks down the Lower Gauley who were completely blind.

New experiences

I don’t know if I had ever been so gripped before a trip. The Lower Gauley is no flat-water float, with three Class V rapids and big waves. As we began, the team asked me to describe everything in detail as we moved downstream. Before long, they were able to anticipate certain waves and features that I was describing, based on the sound of the river. At one point, as we were approaching a rapid called Canyon Doors, one of the guys reached out his right hand and finished my sentence for me,

“ . . . because all down the right side of the river are huge cliffs rising up from the water.” They taught me how to “see” the river in a way I never had before.

Preparation is key

As a guide and River Operations Manager with ACE Adventure Resort, I take great pride in facilitating outdoor adventure experiences. We train our staff to adapt to each guest’s personal experience and abilities, as well as expectations and fears. With our highly trained staff, each with a passion for adventure, it seems anything is possible.

I’ve had the privilege of guiding several groups of Wounded Warrior veterans on river trips. Adapting to the physical requirements of these honorable men and women is something we are proud to do. With adjustments to transportation or in-raft accommodations, we seek to provide guests a seamless experience.

Fresh perspectives

If something is worth doing, it is going to require two things: risk and effort. By learning from others, we can gain so much in life. I will never forget those six rafters, who were blind yet taught me to see from a new perspective.

Bryant Baker

River Operations Manager & Guide – ACE Adventure Resort

As many of us do, Bryant responds to many titles. His two favorite roles are husband to his wife Laura and proud Papa to his three girls. Professional titles include guide, instructor, and operations manager at ACE Adventure Resort plus race director, photographer, and writer. He has worked in the outdoor adventure industry for 18 years, spending the vast majority of that time leading whitewater rafting and climbing trips here in the New River Gorge region of WV.

This post was last updated on February 23, 2022